Raja Parba festival of Odisha is a Festival of Soil

  • Know about the significance of the Raja Parba festival and how it is celebrated that includes praying to Soil.

Did you know about Raja Parba? I did not! This is the first time am hearing about this festival of Odisha. And what a beautiful tradition it is. We present three strands, one of Pratibha, my thoughts and extracts from a book by Col Mohanti (retd).  

Reposting a thread by @PratibhaPriyad3 or see Festival of Soil

“Raja: Festival of Soil (a thread)

In Odisha we have a tradition of celebrating three days of festivities dedicated to Soil. Probably no other region practices something like this. 

The mass festival of Raja starts a day before Mithuna Shankranti, called Pahili (first) Raja.

The preparation for the festival starts a day before and that's called Sajabaaja. Second day is the Shankranti day called Raja shankranti. The third day (day after shankranti) is called the Sesha raja.

For these three days mother earth is considered to be menstruating as ... 
this symbolizes the fertility. That's why for all three days of Raja soil is treated with utmost gentleness. All the agricultural works remain suspended. No one walks upon soil, that's why swings are prepared. 
Young girls are treated as symbolic representative of earth.

That's why they are given new clothes and all other beautifying accessories. Traditional food like Poda Pitha (baked rice cake with jaggery, coconut, cardamom etc.) is a must delicacy of Raja. Many other mouth-watering traditional Odia cuisine is made and served in every family.

Delicacies cooked during Raja Parba. 

After the 3 days, on 4th day Basumati (Earth) Snana is observed. The grinding stone is used as a representative of earth. Turmeric paste is applied to it and then it gets bathed. After that it is decorated with chandan, sindoor, flowers along with other tools used in agriculture.

Grinding stone etc used on fourth day. 

Prasad is offered and everyone prays to mother Soil for a bumper harvest
Slowly the traditional ways of celebration is taking a back seat but the rituals are still followed with all its authentic ways and sanctity.

Hope this year too mother Soil will bless us with good harvest. But many responsible scientists of the world are predicting that we are left with soil for only 50-60 years.

To be able to celebrate this festival we need to do our best to #SaveSoil” 

Raja Parba 2022 commenced on June 15th and it goes on for three days. Hinduism has such beautiful traditions and very meaningful festivals!

Just imagine a child being taught about the Raja Parba. It immediately takes the taboo away from menstruation and it makes the child understand how sensitive Mother Earth is. A deep appreciation for the environment is built into each of these festivals. That's why in India we don't require a "day" to celebrate and appreciate the environment/Soil/Nature. 

The Earth is celebrated as a Goddess, Rivers are worshipped, Animals are worshipped .... and yet sadly we like to ape the West. The Hindu way of living is the true sustainable way of living. Let us value our traditions.

Till the world converts to this way, we will continue to face the wrath of Mother Earth. 

Col J C Mohanti (retd) wrote in his book Fading Festivals of Orissa, “Though basically it is a festival of young girls, it is also an agro-based festival. During the previous summer months, the parched fields were ploughed making use of occasional summer showers and paddy seeds were broadcast. This sankranti, heralds the barsha rutu (rainy season). To celebrate the advent of rains, this joyous festival is observed for four consecutive days.”

“Significantly Raja is a festival for unmarried girls. Just as the Bhu-devi prepares to quench her thirst with the oncoming rains, the unmarried girls groom themselves for their impending matrimony. They observe the festival for three consecutive days.”

“One of the main attractions of Raja festival is doli (swing). Because of this, it is also called swing festival. Dolis are fixed to the branches of mango or banyan trees and are decorated with flower garlands. They are of different types e.g. Ram doli, Charki doli Pata doli and Dandi doli etc. to name a few, depending upon their construction and seating arrangements.”

“The festival had a unifying impact in the society. The get together of the men, women and children and the exchange 119 Important Puja, Festivals, Yatra and Mela of raja pithas amongst friends and neighbours contributed to a harmonious living and removed misunderstandings. With changing time, the festivities during Raja festival are progressively fading. Like many other Odiya festivals, it is not observed in same spirit and enthusiasm. May be in some villages, the festivity might be observed with its earlier tempo.”

To read more about the festival open Pg. 116 of Col’s book. To download PDF click on PDF.

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